Someone put some Bionic Commando in my Saturday morning cartoon!
D3Publisher's The Secret Saturdays: Beasts of the 5th Sun is based on a popular Cartoon Network television show. I have not seen the show, but from what the game presents, it seems like a variation on "The Incredibles," but with Cryptids at the forefront. Developed by High Voltage Software, the game has a basic similarity to the classic 2D Bionic Commando and is a linear, yet surprisingly fun romp.
The story is an original tale featuring many of the show's characters, ranging from the hero Zak Saturday and his intrepid family to villains such as Van Rook and V.V. Argost. Players primarily control Zak, who uses a claw to attack enemies and grapple in a Bionic Commando-like fashion. Unlike the classic Capcom game, though, Zak can also jump.
As you journey through the 10-level side-scrolling adventure, you also run into different family members and Cryptids who help you solve puzzles or combat waves of enemies. The Cryptids range from Zak's beloved pets, including the gorilla-cat named Fiskerton who can climb walls and boost Zak to new heights, to wild ones, such as one that can be launched at larger enemies to clear them out of the way.
Controlling Cryptids is one of the few uses of Wii motion controls, and can sometimes take you out of the game. To select one of the creatures, you have to use the Wii Remote pointer and press the C button. Sometimes you'll take control of them, while other times you're merely scanning them to reveal more information about them or unlock bonus content. There are tons of Cryptids in the game, including 30 that have never been seen before.
While the game is mostly a 2D side-scroller, there are some areas where it becomes more of a 2.5D brawler. Every so often, you'll enter a room where you can go into the foreground and background and must fight a mob of enemies. During these times, you can usually switch between Zak and a family member or Cryptid, which are usually more powerful than our 11-year-old hero.
Unfortunately, the combat devolves into button-mashing, as there are only two attack buttons, one of which can be spammed for massive damage. The game's bosses are the antithesis to the combat and are actually interesting, as they generally take up an entire room and require you to use all of Zak's different abilities.
The Secret Saturdays: Beasts of the 5th Sun is a light-hearted side-scrolling game with some entertaining gameplay. There's not much for those unfamiliar with the series to care about, but it is a fantastic game for any video game fan that also enjoys The Secret Saturdays.